The Purple Sheet
Shabbat Parshat VaYakhel- March 4th/5th ~ כ’ה אדר א תשע’ו
Enjoy the Ride
This week’s Torah portion is not exactly packed with super exciting material. Once again we are told of the many details that went into the building of the Tabernacle. Not to diminish the importance and centrality of it, to the Israelites in the desert especially, but it was kinda hard to squeeze much relatable Torah from it the first go around, let alone the second time when much of the specifics and directives of its construction have already been told to us.
The major difference between version one and version two is that while the Jewish people were given the instructions of how to build it back in parshat Terumah, this week we are told of the actual execution of the plan. Earlier was the architect’s copy so to speak and now the GC has been called in along with the artisans to build it in earnest.
But the simple problem remains that this week’s Torah portion could have been much shorter if it told us that Betzalel and Co. just made the thing without having to once again go into each and every detail that we have already heard about and are more than familiar with. Why bother telling us, yet again, of each measurement and description of the table and of the ark and of the curtains and of the menorah and … we get it!
But maybe that is precisely the point. So often we focus on every detail of something before we have it. We get a bit obsessed over each and every aspect of what it is like not to have the thing and we construct in our mind’s eye what is should or ought to be. But once we get there and accomplish or obtain it, we too quickly forget about it almost immediately. We do not give an equal amount of attention to that sought after goal upon obtaining it as we do to planning it. Maybe this is one of the points that the Torah is trying to get across to us by repeating every nook and cranny of the doing after the planning. Just as we focus so greatly on the details when we plan something, so too we need to equally focus on those self-same details as it is being and once it is done.
Here is a minor expression of what I mean that happened to me this week. The battery on my 2003 Ford Expedition recently was conking out. First time was when Karen got stuck after work at Aventorture (as she likes to call it) Mall. The mall security couldn’t jump it but the GEICO roadside assistance fellow pointed out the built-up dirt on the battery terminal, cleaned it off and got it going. But later when we went away for a few days and did not use the truck, it was dead again upon our return and I figured it was because the nameless last driver maybe forgot to turn off the lights. So I jump-started it and got it running. But at the end of that day when I went to leave Aish, lo and behold, it would not start. Well now I know it has to be a bad battery and I went looking through my records since I thought it was not so old. Thankfully I found the receipt and discovered that I got that battery three and a half years ago – pretty good life on a car battery, so I didn’t feel like I got ripped off. So I left the vehicle at Aish overnight, jumped it the next day and drove to Rami at Jet Auto to get a new battery.
At any rate, we all have had these irritants that distract and throw off a good part of our day. We tend to focus on every detail of them at the moment they are happening when they are a problem. But once the new battery is in, the real challenge is to enjoy the solution and fix as much as we were bothered by the problem. If it was a minor bummer when the battery was not working, then it ought to be a minor upper now that it works fine. If we are so quick to get hot and bothered before the thing gets done, then we need to have the corresponding joy and satisfaction at a job well done.
This lesson is way more important when it comes to our children or other family members. We might get on their case with passion, emotion and sometimes frustration when we want them to do something. But do we have that same passion, emotion and satisfaction once they indeed did it? And more importantly, do we express and tell them so?
If you are nagging or cajoling a loved one to do something, then once it is done, the worst thing to do is to ignore it at that point and behave like it is a given. Nobody gets encouraged if the best they can do is get out of the negative zone to zero. People need love, encouragement and acknowledgement. So if you get aggravated at your kids for not cleaning the kitchen or their room and you point out every minor flaw, then make sure you are equally pleased once they indeed do their job and point out every detail of what they did right.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons that the Torah goes over each and every detail of the actual building of the Tabernacle after giving those very same details beforehand of how to construct it. If the Almighty could spend the time to devote a significant amount of space in His holy Torah to repeating every facet involved in building His home on earth, then we too need to make every effort and devote an equal amount of time to the accomplishments and successes that we and others experience in life. Just as we are attuned to every step and effort that is necessary before something happens, we need to go over and remind ourselves of those exact steps and efforts that went into making it happen. Don’t just live with the frustration and challenge before your spiritual houses are built, make sure you stop to enjoy the fruits of your labour once they are finished – each and every little detail of them.
We are the navvies who work upon the railway
swingin’ our hammers in the bright blazin’ sun
Layin’ down track and buildin’ the bridges
bendin’ our backs ’til the railroad is done
So over the mountains and over the plains
into the muskeg and into the rain
up the St. Lawrence all the way to Gaspe
swingin’ our hammers and drawin’ our pay
– Gordon Lightfoot
Rabbi Tzvi Nightingale
Aish South Florida www.aishfl.com